Did you know that the first Friday in March is Employee Appreciation Day? If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an event where employees are recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments. Moreover, it demonstrates your appreciation for their hard work, dedication, and talent.

When planning meaningful and impactful appreciation activities, you may feel overwhelmed by the variety of options. Thankfully, this blog post offers a wide range of creative and affordable Employee Appreciation Day ideas.

Why Employee Appreciation Matters

Before we get started, let’s discuss the “why” behind Employee Appreciation Day.

Recognizing your employees effectively doesn’t just feel good, it can also help your business succeed. Regular recognition improves an employee’s perception of the organization. Often, this results in:

    • Enhances engagement. A positive and productive workplace is cultivated when employees feel valued and appreciated. According to research reported by ProofHub, “58 percent of employees say employee recognition is how leaders could do more to improve employee engagement.”
    • Boosts productivity. After all, feeling appreciated leads them to want to work even harder to earn more approval. In fact, 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt appreciated at work.
    • Increases happiness. Recognizing your staff regularly keeps them happy and productive. In fact, 82% of people report feeling happier when their work is recognized.
    • Reduces burnout. Burnout is 84% less likely to occur when employees feel appreciated.
    • Turnover is reduced. A company with an appreciation culture will likely retain employees, reducing recruitment and training costs. There is a 20x more significant chance of employees staying with a company when they celebrate together.
    • Improves customer service. An engaged workforce delivers better customer service, resulting in higher customer loyalty.
    • Strengthens company culture. Building a more robust and more collaborative team is driven by appreciation, which fosters a sense of community and belonging. Besides reducing turnover, this can help attract top talent. A company’s culture is considered important by 46 percent of job seekers when choosing a job.

Planning Your Employee Appreciation Day

We can now move on to planning now that you understand the significance of appreciation. Below are some key steps to consider

  • Set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend on appreciation activities. By keeping your budget in mind, you can narrow down your options and ensure you don’t overspend.
  • Consider your team. Consider the interests, preferences, and personalities of your employees. Is there anything they would truly appreciate?
  • Get creative. Show your appreciation uniquely and personally by thinking outside the box.
  • Involve your team. Utilize polls, one-on-ones, or suggestion boxes to ask employees what they would enjoy. As a result, they will feel valued and more involved.
  • Promote the day. Promote Employee Appreciation Day in newsletters, Slack channels, or social media during the week leading up to it.

Personalized Touches

A key component of an employee’s experience is personalization. In particular, employees might feel more connected to their employers when their experiences are personalized. This in turn will increase employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

Keeping that in mind, here are some individualized ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day.

  • Handwritten thank-you notes. You can show appreciation and gratitude for an employer by writing a handwritten thank-you note. Further, a handwritten note shows more effort and time than an email or a typed letter. As a result, this feels personal.
  • Match employee interests. Provide a cooking class if an employee enjoys cooking. A concert ticket would be a great gift if they are passionate about music. You can also gift them a gym membership if they are exercise enthusiasts.
  • Public recognition with specifics. Provide examples of how an employee has contributed to the company in a specific way. This can be done on social media or before a meeting.
  • Desk drops. Leaving small treats, gift cards, or personalized tokens of appreciation on employees’ desks can make them feel appreciated throughout the day.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements. Employees can work from home or adjust their schedules according to their needs.
  • Time off or sabbatical. Providing high-performing employees the opportunity to recharge will allow them to return refreshed.
  • Mentorship or coaching opportunities. For personalized guidance, pair employees with experience with those who are newer.
  • Professional development opportunities. Invest in their growth by sponsoring workshops, conferences, and training programs. In fact, 68% of employees prefer to learn or train in the workplace.
  • Time off donation program. Employees can donate unused vacation days to colleagues in need.
  • Charity donation in the employee’s name. Their name can be attached to donating to a cause that aligns with their values.

Team-Wide Celebrations

You may want to consider these engaging activities if you want to create a more communal atmosphere:

  • Company outing. Consider organizing a picnic, bowling night, or escape room challenge.
  • Team lunch or dinner. Organize a special dinner for your team at a nice restaurant. Or, throw a pizza party during lunch.
  • Volunteer activity. Teamwork and social responsibility are fostered as you give back to the community. In addition, studies show that volunteer programs improve employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
  • Themed potluck or dress-up day. Plan a fun team bonding event such as “Mismatched Socks Day” or “Decades Day.”
  • Talent show or game competition. Put on a friendly competition to showcase hidden talents or hold a team-building activity.
  • Office Olympics. Encourage physical activity and laughter throughout the day with playful mini-games.
  • Scavenger hunt. Use clues about the company culture or inside jokes to design a scavenger hunt around the office or neighborhood.
  • Movie afternoon or game night. Provide a cozy space for your employees to relax and play their favorite games or watch movies.
  • Wellness activity. Promote well-being by organizing yoga classes, meditation sessions, or cooking demonstrations.

Beyond Employee Appreciation Day

Don’t limit appreciation to one day a year. You can make it a continuous practice by:

  • Regularly acknowledging achievements. Keep motivation high by celebrating milestones, no matter how big or small.
  • Providing ongoing feedback. Encourage employees to grow by offering constructive feedback and praise.
  • Creating a culture of appreciation. Recognize each other’s successes and celebrate team achievements frequently, like weekly or every quarter.
  • Empowering employees. To foster engagement, give them autonomy and ownership over their work.
  • Investing in their well-being. Provide employees with competitive benefits, flexible working arrangements, and opportunities for advancement.


You can show your team how much you appreciate their contributions on Employee Appreciation Day. Incorporating these creative ideas can strengthen your company culture, boost morale, and drive success.

Don’t forget that appreciation is an ongoing process, not just a one-time event. Develop a workplace where employees feel valued, engaged, and empowered to perform at their best.


What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Every year, employees worldwide celebrate Employee Appreciation Day to recognize and appreciate their contributions. It’s an opportunity for companies to express their gratitude and show their employees how much they are valued.

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Traditionally, it is celebrated on the first Friday in March in the United States. However, some companies celebrate it on a different day that is more convenient for them.

How can I personalize my appreciation for each employee?

Don’t forget to consider their individual preferences, strengths, and contributions. Provide specific examples of their achievements and what you appreciate about them.

What should I avoid doing on Employee Appreciation Day?

  • Generic gifts. Give thoughtful gifts instead of generic ones. For example, giving them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop.
  • Empty gestures. You should go the extra mile to show appreciation during Employee Appreciation Day. You can recognize and celebrate employees’ achievements through company announcements, social media posts, or team meetings.
  • Focusing on a select few. Be sure to appreciate all your employees, not just a select few.
  • Making it all about work. Despite Employee Appreciation Day being a day to celebrate, do not solely focus on work. You should allow your employees to relax and have fun at work.

Do I need a big budget to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

On Employee Appreciation Day, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Your employees will appreciate even the smallest gesture, like a handwritten note. Remember, showing your employees you appreciate them by being genuine is most important.

Image Credit: Ann H; Pexels